Not as promisedRivaling political parties are putting the final touches on their rosters for the April 15 parliamentary elections. Despite earlier promises, few names are fresh. Internal wrangling and feuds over nominations have dejected voters in their wishes for a political breakthrough to help a country in distress due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Kim Chong-in — a former Democratic Party (DP) chairman who was approached by the opposition United Future Party (UFP) to head the campaign committee for the merged conservative party — clashed with the leadership of the party over the nomination of Thae Yong-ho, a former North Korean deputy ambassador to Britain who defected to South Korea. Kim called the nomination a “humiliation” as the candidate has no “roots in South Korea.” The accusation stirred controversy for hurting North Korean defectors.
Kim clashed with Kim Hyung-o, who was overseeing the UFP’s nomination process, and then turned down an offer to join the opposition party. His addition muddled up the power struggle between Kim and UFP head Hwang Kyo-ahn over nominations and dashed people’s hopes for reforms in the major conservative party ahead of the April 15 general elections.
The DP’s nomination race has also invited controversy after Rep. Keum Tae-sup failed to get a ticket for a seat in the National Assembly after he criticized former Justice Minister Cho Kuk in a confirmation hearing and cast a vote against the ruling party’s bill on establishing a separate law enforcement agency to investigate senior government officials, including prosecutors and judges. The lawmaker was crossed out by President Moon Jae-in’s avid loyalists.
Instead, Kim Nam-kook, a lawyer who wrote a favorable book on Cho, applied for the opening of Keum’s constituency. Although Kim later changed his constituency, the fiasco underscores how the DP stays exclusively to Moon’s fan club.
Only 28 percent of the DP roster are new faces. The ratio of young and female candidates has fallen sharply. The list is mostly comprised of the generation of student activists loyal to Moon.
The other parties are no better. Few fresh names or women have been added. The parties have once again defied public wishes for a generational change and political reform to pursue their self interests. It is now up to the voters to be scrupulous and pick the best candidates.